Safe Exercise for Each Trimester
Exercise is a safe and important activity for expectant mothers. It can help relieve low back pain, decrease your fatigue, shorten your labor, and lead to a quicker post-partum recovery! If you are considering exercising during your pregnancy, you may find yourself wondering which exercises are safe for your ever expanding mid-section.
In the following, you will find examples of great exercises for each trimester as well as some important safety tips. Remember to check with your physician before adding any new exercises to your routine!
First Trimester – Average Weight Gain: 2-5 lbs
If you are lucky enough to want to continue your pre-pregnancy workout through the first-trimester morning sickness and fatigue, that’s great, you can safely continue with a normal routine. However, there are a few exceptions. Marathons are generally not recommended for pregnant women and you should probably avoid contact sports until after your baby is born. If your nausea and fatigue are getting in the way, keep in mind that it passes.
Walking and swimming are fabulous exercises for expectant moms. A brisk walk for 20-30 minutes each day can be a fun way to add physical activity to your day.
If working out wasn’t part of your life before your pregnancy, no worries, you can safely incorporate many exercises into your week and reap the benefits! Walking and swimming are fabulous exercises for expectant moms. A brisk walk for 20-30 minutes each day can be a fun way to add physical activity to your day. Just be sure to avoid extreme temperatures and check to make sure you aren’t over exerting yourself by taking the “talk test”. If you can talk to your walking buddy without losing your breath, you’re A-okay!
Swimming is a great exercise because it provides a cardiovascular workout while toning your muscles at the same time. The water also provides support as your belly grows, taking some pressure off your back and minimizing joint strain. During your first trimester, try swimming for at least 20 minutes about three times a week.
Weight training with free weights or resistance training machines is another safe option and can help increase both your muscle tone and strength. If you currently weight train, consider reducing your weight and upping your repetitions. If you strain during weight training, avoid keeping your airway closed, which can increase the amount of pressure on your abdomen, and try to keep your breathing smooth and steady.
You can practice smooth and steady breathing during another great activity during pregnancy: prenatal yoga. Practicing your breathing now can be helpful during labor. Yoga is also a great way to stretch out tight muscles and increase flexibility, which can be quite helpful during pregnancy and may even decrease the need for an episiotomy.
You should try incorporating kegel exercises into your daily routine. Start by contracting your kegel muscles as tightly as you can for 5 seconds.
Kegel exercises strengthen and tone the muscles of the pelvic floor, which helps prepare these muscles for delivery.
If you aren’t sure how to access your kegel muscles, keep in mind that these are the muscles that you use to hold back urine. If you try stopping and starting several times while urinating, you will be using your kegel muscles!
You should try incorporating kegel exercises into your daily routine. Start by contracting your kegel muscles as tightly as you can for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times for 1 set and try to fit in 5 –10 sets throughout the day.
Second Trimester – Average Weight Gain: 1 lb per week
You can safely continue weight training, yoga, swimming, and running in your second trimester, but remember, no marathons! You may even find you have more energy in your second trimester.
As your joints loosen, you are at a greater risk for injury like sprains and strains.
However, as your belly grows your balance may be affected, so keep this in mind and adjust accordingly. You may want to sit for all your weight training sessions and take extra care during yoga. It is also important to pay special attention to your posture. Keeping your hips tucked under your body and avoiding an extra arch in your back can really protect your lower back and prevent some back pain.
During your second trimester, your body starts to produce the hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints in preparation for labor and delivery. As your joints loosen, you are at a greater risk for injury like sprains and strains. For this reason, it is important to take care when stretching or participating in activities like running that can increase the amount of stress on your joints.
Third Trimester – Average Weight Gain: 1 lb per week
Swimming, walking, and reclining exercise bikes are great third trimester workouts.
Some women continue to exercise throughout the end of the pregnancy, but depending on how you feel, it may be appropriate to cut down or stop exercising completely. But remember, the better shape you are in, the easier labor should be.
If you have any questions about your workout regimen during this trimester it is best to ask your physician.
It is important to avoid lying on your back because this can block blood flow if there is any pressure on your blood vessels. Swimming, walking, and reclining exercise bikes are great third trimester workouts.
Remember to keep up with your Kegel exercises, it’s almost delivery time!
- You should always monitor your heart rate. It is important to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Your baby’s heart rate is linked to yours, so if your heart is racing, so is your little one’s. Using a heart rate monitor is a great way to stay within a safe range. In fact, some monitors even come with an alarm that can alert you if your heart rate goes above your desired limit.
- Never exercise to the point where you are out of breath. If you find you are breathing too heavily, take it a bit slower and catch your breath. You don’t want to decrease your baby’s oxygen supply.
- Get plenty of fluids, before, during, and after exercising.
- Avoid extreme temperatures, especially very hot weather.
- Avoid contact sports.
- Make sure your footwear supports your ankles and arches.
- Listen to your body!